Zahid Jones Act - Give Grandparents and Other Relatives a Voice Act

Zahid Jones was born in 2003.  The family was known to DCF for prior allegations of physical abuse of Zahid and his siblings.  Zahid was removed from his mother and placed with a non-relative instead of his grandmother who had been a primary caregiver in the past.  After Zahid was returned home to his mother, the grandmother attempted to alert child welfare professionals and service providers of the imminent danger to Zahid.  Zahid tragically died in May of 2007, murdered at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend

The Zahid Jones, Jr., Give Grandparents and Other Relatives a Voice Act, was established to provide a more effective protocol for the engagement of relatives and to ensure their voice is heard during the investigative and judicial process. It ensures that relatives will be provided notice of all proceedings and hearings.  Statute requires the case plan to describe the case manager’s duty to forward a relative’s request to receive such notification to the DCF Attorney.  The bill also requires caseworkers to contact relatives if parents refuse voluntary services.

Case Management requirements:

  • After commencement of investigation, a relative may submit a request in writing to the CM to receive notification of all proceedings and hearings
  • Request must include relatives name, address, phone number and relationship to the child.
  • Case Plan must include a task for case manager to forward relative’s request to attorney for the Department and the attorney will notify relative of all hearings either in writing or orally and inform relative of their right to:

§  Attend all subsequent hearings

§  Submit written reports to the court

§  Speak to the court regarding the child

CPI’s requirements:

  • Provide contact information to the reporter within 24 hours
  • After commencement of investigation, a relative may submit a request in writing to the CPI to receive notification of all proceedings and hearings and CPI must forward relative’s request (with same information as above) to attorney for the Department and the attorney will notify the relative of all hearings and proceedings (and their rights above)

The Court:

  • Must, at shelter, notify the parents, legal custodian and relatives providing out-of-home care the importance of active participation of the relative
  • May release attorney from this obligation if relative’s involvement is impeding the dependency process or detrimental to the child’s well being.